Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Frozen Embryos in the High Court

In November 2006 McGovern J. ruled in the High Court that Ireland's constitutional protection of "the unborn" does not include embryos outside the womb.

The full decision is now available on BAILII:
M.R. v T.R. and Others [2006] IEHC 359 (15 November 2006)

The earlier High Court case was
M.R. v T.R. [2006] IEHC 221 (18 July 2006)

Sample News Story:
Legislation prospect after embryo ruling


"The Minister for Health & Children, Mary Harney, has said she had already instructed her Department to begin preparing for legislation in the area of assisted reproduction.

Ms Harney's statement followed a High Court judgment rejecting the case of a woman seeking to have three frozen embryos released to her against the wishes of her estranged husband.

The woman argued that the embryos had a right to life under the Constitution, but the High Court ruled that the protection of the unborn does not include embryos outside the womb.


However, today the High Court concluded that the three frozen embryos are not unborn within the meaning of the Constitution.

Mr Justice Brian McGovern said that it had never been in the minds of people voting on the 1983 Constitutional Amendments on Article 40.3.3 that the unborn meant anything other than the foetus in the womb.

The judge also said it was not possible for the court to decide when unborn life begins - that was not necessary to resolve the issues in this case."